GREAT CORN PUDDING RECIPE

 

FOOD AND WINE magazine has a wonderful corn pudding recipe that I tried tonight. It’s a “keeper”. I cut down on the butter; actually I just left it out.  And instead of 6 eggs, I used 4 because I wanted more corn flavor.  The corn is so sweet and tasty now…it’s the perfect time to try this recipe.  The cornmeal settles on the bottom so that it serves as a crust.  I loaded up with sweet Mayan onions. If you want a more elegant presentation try using muffin tins or what I did which was quite simple was to use a small cup as a cookie cutter and carved out single portions.  The picture shows this single portion presentation using chervil as a garnish.

CUCUMBER ABUNDANCE

 

 

I  love home grown cucumbers.  There is absolutely no relation to the tasteless varieties you find most of the year in the supermarkets.  These are a Chinese variety called Suyo Long. They are crunchy, flavorful and sweet  with tiny seeds. We bought the seeds from Johnny’s Seed Catalogue.  

  This is the first year our cucumbers plants  haven’t been gobbled up by the rabbits and woodchucks or blighted by one of the many diseases that attack cucumbers.  So now we are in cucumber heaven.  The best thing to do with these is to eat them sliced with a little salt.   Here are some of the simple and great things I do with cucumbers when I want to do something a little more exotic.

 

CUCUMBERS WITH DILL AND FETA

Stay simple with cucumbers and don’t salt them until the last minute.  This Greek preparation combines small cubes of cucumber and the same size cubes of good quality Feta cheese and chopped dill.  Right before serving add the salt and toss with a really good olive oil.

Tomato and cucumber salad

This preparation is Middle Eastern.  This is the salad eaten in Arab and Israeli families because where you can eat amazing cucumbers and tomatoes most of the year. This salad is great stuffed into a pita with hummus and tahini. I  make this salad with small cubes of tomato and cucumber, salt and finished with olive oil again.  But in the Middle East you’ll see this salad with lots of parsley and scallion and lemon juice.  When you have perfect tomatoes and cucumbers for only a couple months around here, I want to enjoy them unadorned.

Cucumbers and Carrots with Miso Dip

 Remember Kayuga Japanese Restaurant on Eddy Street?  We were frequent flyers there and I liked their miso dip so much that I asked for the recipe.  I was rewarded with a little piece of paper on which was written the ingredients but not the quantities.  In the true spirit of intuitive  cooking I’ll also pass along the basic ingredients and method and then leave it up to the reader to concoct their own version.  Start with 1/2 cup of Sake and 1/4 cup of mirin.  Boil together until reduced to about 1/2 cup.  Turn off the heat and add miso a little at a time starting with a heaping tablespoon.  The trick to miso is not to boil it.  I use white miso in this recipe, but you can experiment with different types of miso.  You’ll want the consistency to be like ketchup.  It will thicken once cooled.  Add 1 teaspoon of sesame oil and a few shakes of roasted sesame seeds.  Then taste.  If you want it sweeter, add a pinch of sugar.  This lasts for several days in the fridge. 

Miso can be found in many grocery stores.  Greenstar has it in bulk in the back of their store so you can buy small quantities  and  experiment with different types of miso.  Wegmans has tubs of miso in the cooler section which also containes seitan and tofu.

JULIA CHILD’S BIRTHDAY

 

CELEBRATING JULIA CHILD’S BIRTHDAY
 
August 15th was Julia Child’s Birthday. On the eve of her birthday I enjoyed the movie Julie and Julia based on her life in Paris and the beginning of her cooking career. Meryl Streep was phenomenal as Julia Child. It didn’t take me long to allow Meryl to be Julia…she did such a convincing job. I went to the movie to be inspired to cook some of Julia’s recipes in honor of her birthday. 
 
Like many of us die-hard foodies who are in our 50s or older, Julia was a major inspiration. I have most of her cookbooks and found two recipes to make yesterday for our Julia birthday celebration. The cake was from her “The French Chef Cookbook”, based on the 119 programs in her first television series. It is called Le Marquis au Chocolat. I used a different glaze and filled it with raspberry jam and it was quite delicious. I also substituted bittersweet for the semi-sweet chocolate.  And I recommend checking after 25 minutes, because 30 minutes of baking time was a little too long in my oven.
 
 
 
The other recipe was from her “Julia Child and More Company” cookbook. Normally I don’t give recipes another look when they require more than ¼ cup or so of heavy cream. But in order to do justice to our Julia I knew that I needed to set aside my prejudices and my health for a day in order to make her Mousse of Scallops and Flounder layered with watercress and salmon which I must honestly confide requires two cups of heavy cream. 
 
I didn’t skimp on the cream but I made a couple minor changes. I used 1 ½ pounds of scallops and ½ pound of flounder instead of the reverse. I also used regular salmon rather than smoked salmon because I didn’t want the fresh fish flavor to be overshadowed by the smoky flavor of the salmon. The very ingredient in this recipe is bread crumbs.  They soak up the liquid coming from the fish and keep all the flavor in the terrine. 
 
 I served it cold because yesterday was really hot. And I made a sorrel cream sauce with a little dry white vermouth, lemon and some yellow beets to give it some sweetness. I garnished the plate with a few watercress leaves.

ICE-CREAM & GELATO IN THE FINGER LAKES

 

ENJOYING ICE-CREAM, SORBET and
GELATO in the FINGER LAKES
 
Purity Ice-Cream is an Ithaca institution. It’s been around longer than most of us …since 1936. I remember when the “Uni-Deli” on the corner of College Ave and Dryden Road served Purity Ice-Cream. When I was in “over-the-top” studying mode as a Cornell student in the 70s, the best reward for a good night’s work was a Purity mocha chip Sunday with hot fudge sauce. The best!!! I also love Mandigan Mint. They have all sorts of great flavors like The Finger Lakes Tourist: White chocolate chunks with hazelnut pieces in chocolate ice-cream. Everyone of course has their favorite but I recommend venturing out of your comfort zone to try something new. Purity also has great homemade muffins.  Expect a line on hot summer days and early evenings after soccer games or softball games at Cass Park. 
 
There are other great spots for ice-cream, sorbet or gelato if you venture out a bit. On Cayuga Lake in Interlaken you’ll find Cayuga Lake Creamery. This is a small Mom and Pop operation that makes all their ice-cream and sorbets on the premises.   Jeff Kostick and Judy Gonroff offer at least 36 flavors. One of my favorites is Gianduia: chocolate hazelnut ice-cream. They also make a great tiramisu and wonderful pistachio ice-cream. 
Jeff and Judymake excellent use of the Cayuga Lake wines by pairing them with fruit to make unusual and excellent sorbets.   Some of the flavors you might find are: Americana Vineyards Barn Raising Red Dark Cherry Sorbet, Americana Vineyards Sweet Rosie Strawberry Sorbet, Buttonwood Grove Winery Riesling Orange Sorbet, Buttonwood Grove Winery Blackberry Briar Blackberry Sorbet, Cayuga Ridge Estate Winery Solo Peach Sorbet, Cobblestone Farm Winery Merlot Dark Cherry Sorbet, Goose Watch Winery Strawberry Splendor Strawberry Sorbet, Montezuma Winery Cranberry Bog Orange Sorbet. Sheldrake Point Vineyard Summer Blush Chocolate Ice Cream or  Trelevan Merlot Raspberry Sorbet.
 I also recommend their homemade waffle cones.  
 
 
Skyland Farm and Gallery
 
One of the hidden gems of the Finger Lakes is Skyland Farm and Gallery in Burdett NY, 7 miles North of Watkins Glen on Seneca Lake. You must visit this incredible place. First of all, set in a beautiful barn and built around an oak tree, this store is filled with crafts from over 300 artists including many local crafts people. Every craft imaginable is represented here from hook rugs, to metal sculptures, stain glass, and specially crafted broomsticks. It really is more like a museum except that many of the crafts are very reasonably priced. You can savor the wonderful view of Seneca Lake as you lounge in the porch swings or on the comfortable couches spread out on the shady deck or the front garden. The landscaping is unique and really needs to be seen first hand to be appreciated. 
 

View from Skyland Farm and Gallerly

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